Tuesday, December 4, 2007

6th Sense FEATURE from Rawkus.com

Words by Drew Ricketts.

Chapter One

Rappers from the Pelham section of Westchester are hard to come by. Michael Kawesch, also known as 6th Sense, often glows with enough worldly charm for you to disregard origins, his or anyone’s. In our first meeting, he recounted to me the disdain he received from an anonymous internet commenter on Oliver Wang’s site soul-sides.com. Apparently, someone felt the need to question a song’s credibility through his background, saying that he was a Westchester native — not from the Bronx as he claimed. Simple geography shows how close Pelham is to the Bronx, where he relocated from at thirteen. Nevertheless, he will hear grumbling about white rappers and authenticity as long as “race” remains a magic taboo in society. Rather than shying away from some of the pigeonholing misnomers (he did turn down an offer to be on The White Rapper Show), he often embraces the racial ambiguity that comes with being a skilled, down, white rapper. For instance, although we met in the swanky four star midtown restaurant Anthos to chat about the Rawkus 50 and the State of Hip-Hop, his best friend and chef Daniel Eddy and colleague Jason Hall sponsored our meal out of patronage and support for 6th. This perfect combination of business shrewdness and affable joviality characterized the time we spent. Extending his hospitality was not part of a larger scheme to get his music heard either. I already had 6th Sense’s album “It’s Coming Soon” from one of many e-mail blasts that feature new artists and their press machines. I had never heard his music but remember having a chance meeting with him on the Lower East Side at Palms Out, a clothing store reserved for chic artists.

He immediately ingratiated himself with both friends and strangers with his visible charm and confidence. His rhymes, by extension, never belie his personality often dashing between assured reflective and ostensibly defiant and powerful. “It’s Coming Soon” is an act of rebellion against the accepted underground format because it is singularly lively. The pace is frenetic, almost as if the futurism 6th embodies is a necessary ingredient in hip-hop’s continued vitality. Our initial conversation revolved around exchanges about new music, and how much it has been stifled in the wake of all the Hip-Hop Is Dead hullabaloo. But as he detailed his history of making songs, I saw that the connections he’d harvested since a teenager doing street team work made him a living example of rap’s freshness. In his “Future Music,” he imagines a world that welcomes new ideas and himself as an ambassador. On our walks, he explained the meaning of his name, how his intuition has been an unfailing guide. There were strings of connections from him to Snoop Dogg, Big Daddy Kane and others. His role as an emcee/producer even merited Snoop’s attention and he blessed the Doggfather with a track he made alongside frequent beat collaborator Frequency.

But 6th Sense is uneasy labeling himself only a producer; emceeing (like talking) is his primary talent. The more time we spent politicking, the more evident that became.

Chapter Two

The second meeting with 6th Sense was less fortuitous for me. En route to WNYU, New York University’s premier hip-hop channel, I was apprehended by the boys in blue for having a smoke in a restricted region. Ironically, 6th was the one who advised me to delay my diversion because he had a bad feeling. A sixth sense? In any case, upon getting out he was the first to call me, effusively asking me how I was after the unfortunate encounter. I thanked him for his advice and for keeping it moving. Besides, no need for two of us to be thwarted that night. WNYU’s Halftime Show has been showing 6th Sense respect since his first work “Highing Fly,” and on that night he was the first Rawkus 50 artist from the new generation to show and prove.

Chapter Three

Just days after “It’s Coming Soon” hit the virtual world on iTunes, I spoked with 6th about his hopes for the new work. He reserved no enthusiasm in promoting his project. Few solid albums have broken the surface in the cold climate of hip-hop while 6th has been somewhat inspired by the warm reception of his work. When asked if he was comfortable being a flagship artist for the new Rawkus, he smiled knowingly and told me “Who else?” It seemed a fitting gesture for him, having only shown confidence and unmitigated hustle since our first get-up. “I never stop working because I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me,” said as if he could make it a mantra. Without dropping names, he carefully demonstrated how many doors he has toppled in only the past year. “Go For It” is his next mixtape project, hosted by Mick Boogie. 6th is but a stone’s throw away from the most celebrated DJ’s and up-and-coming artists. Soon, he’ll be named among them.

for the original feature, click here.

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